While many senior executives at Mazda have stated their wish for a new Mazdaspeed3, it doesn’t appear that there will be a new version of the performance-enhanced version of the Mazda3.
Too small a company?
Last year, Mazda CEO Akira Marumoto declared the performance-focused Mazdas finished.
Mazda had just unveiled the new Mazda3 at the L.A. Auto Show late in 2018 when the Marumoto made the statement. He explained that Mazda was too small a business to be focusing on the development of performance vehicles. Instead, he said the company wanted to focus on incorporating “driving pleasure” into its standard line of vehicles.
“Mazda is a small player, and so does that particular area have a high priority for Mazda? My answer is no,” Marumoto explained. “And therefore we are not planning an MPS either.”
Mazdaspeed used to be a performance sub-brand for Mazda, the U.S. version of Mazda’s European MPS division. Its last model was a five-seat hatchback with a powerful, turbocharged 2.3-liter engine. It was, however, discontinued in 2013.
Warm hatches and cautious optimism
The Mazdaspeed3s had been a popular hot hatch or a high-performance version of the mass-produced hatchback. But with their already engaging driving dynamics, if Mazdaspeed3s were hot hatches, you could probably call regular Mazda3s warm hatches.
They certainly can’t match the remaining hot hatches like the Golf GTI or the new Hyundai i30 N which continue to impress and improve.
The fastest Mazda3s available since the death of the Mazdaspeed3 has been the Mazda3 SP25 and the very brief diesel XD Astina.
But then around April, there were new rumors of a plan to bring back a solid Mazda3 performance hatch. Those seemed confirmed by a report from the UK where Mazda3 Program Manager Kota Beppu allegedly expressed his wish for the return of a performance hatch for Mazda. It seemed the senior Mazda staff in Australia very much shared those sentiments.
Hiroyuki Matsumoto, the Mazda global development and product planning manager, was asked in July about the possible return of a performance hatch at Mazda. This happened at the international launch of Mazda3’s Skyactiv-X. There were smiles and laughs all around when Matsumoto got the question.
The answer was not so funny and seemed pretty finite.
“We are capable of creating an engine to answer such demands for more power, but at the moment we have no plan to do it,” Matsumoto explained.
It had only been two weeks before that when there was news that Mazda was about to begin their TCR motorsport series. There are to be three vehicles in production for it. And those would seem to go along well with a performance-enhanced hatch.
While Mazda gets ready for the return of a rotary-engined sports car, maybe the rumors of such a model serve as a diversion. The sports car will almost certainly be the star of the show in the company’s 100th birthday celebrations next year.
Either way, it doesn’t look like we’re getting a new Mazdaspeed3.
If Mazda could, why won’t it?
From a certain point of view, it makes practical sense. Most automakers have been trying to keep costs down and streamline where they can in today’s auto market. Developing a new Mazdaspeed3 may be on the wishlist of the brand’s many fans. It does nothing to help the company in its goals of moving upmarket.
Even in today’s competitive environment, other companies seem to see value in that particular segment. Hyundai will bring its Veloster N to the U.S. Honda’s Civic Type R is in production. Volkswagen is ramping up production of both the GTI and the Golf R.
All this considered, many Mazda fans are feeling bummed out about the company bailing out of the segment entirely.